News / Africa

Niger Uneasy About French Troops Tracking Abductions

Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010
Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010

French troops are in Niger to help search for hostages abducted by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.

The hostages abducted last month from Niger's huge French uranium mine are now thought to be in neighboring Mali. So there is no on-the-ground hunt for the hostages here. Instead, the 80 French troops in Niger's capital are conducting aerial surveillance of the group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb along Mali's border with Algeria.

The head of the French military, Edouard Guillaud, says there are no immediate plans to use those troops to help free the hostages.

For the moment, he says, French forces in the Sahel are here to support diplomacy.

The strain of the kidnapping and the deployment of French troops has caused some tension between Niger's military government, France, and the French energy firm Areva.

Regional diplomats here say there is an unhappy cooperation with the French deployment. Niger's government knows it can not refuse the troops because this is not Niger's fight. There is an acknowledgement that terrorism has hurt tourism and could threaten future investment. The hope, diplomats say, is that al-Qaida and the French will both leave Niger in peace.

Political science professor Mahaman Tidjani Alou says the arrival of both al-Qaida and French troops means Niger no longer has any privacy. It is as if the country is now simply part of a larger territory.

Alou says these are problems effecting Niger in such a way that its leaders appear helpless.   What will happen in the future, he asks. Either Sahelian countries will be strengthened to better control their territories and protect their sovereignty or they are going to occupied by foreign armies or other groups like al-Qaida.

With the resources Niger has today, Alou says the country is becoming more and more attractive to groups like Areva. Areva is already here, he says, but no one knows where it will stop. Alou says the problems of security are in Niger and Mali but the negotiations to find solutions are taking place in Paris and Washington. That, he says, is the paradox.

Algerian security analyst Hamad Yassine says French troops in the Sahel threaten Algeria's self-appointed role as the regional leader in the fight against al-Qaida.

Yassine says Algeria is organizing Sahelian military and intelligence chiefs to make clear that it is in charge of this fight. Yassine says it is a message to the Sarkozy government that French troops must leave regional security cooperation to Algeria, since Algeria believes it knows best this al-Qaida group because it began in Algeria.

Mauritanian political analyst Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Abu al-Maaly says French intervention in the hostage crisis would give al-Qaida a huge propaganda win.

He says French troops are like adding oil to a fire because it justifies al-Qaida's presence in the region as a popular force defending the sovereignty of Sahelian people against foreign intervention. He doubts Algeria's ability to better coordinate anti-terrorism efforts because of mistrust among Sahelian governments, which makes it easier for al-Qaida to operate.

Al-Qaida's attack on the uranium mine here was an unusually bold move for a group that previously focused on kidnapping tourists and aid workers. The vulnerability of such an important investment for Niger has lead to finger pointing over security and sovereignty.

Government spokesman Laouali Dan Dah says Niger's military offered to take over security at the Areva mine in July. But Areva chose instead to use its own unarmed guards unlike, Dan Dah says, any of the other mining firms in Niger. Areva says 350 troops stationed at the local airport were meant to regularly patrol living areas from where the hostages were abducted.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid